Adventure abounded with my bromantic flame–my dear Bradley <3<3<3.
Behold our 70 mile odyssey of discovery, merriment, and triumph.
Witness our harrowing tale, fraught with uncertainty, intrigue, and adversity.
Warm your heart and titillate your senses with the tale of love shared between two men; forged and bonded by our sublime pilgrimage and devotion to an audacious and adventure-laden glory.
Pomp, fluff, and cheese aside, here’s our story.
Trip Report: Overnight Tour to Uvas Canyon County Park Campground
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate (higher on the moderate end)
Time on Bike: 6 Hours South, 5 Hours North
“What’s our next adventure?”, I innocuously asked Brad in my living room after dinner.
Brad thumbing with some K’NEX that were strewn about the floor glanced up at me upon my query. Eyes still fixed on the K’NEX, he succinctly and immediately responded without thought in a stoney, expressionless matter-of-fact tone that impressed an air of finality, “Overnight bike tour.”
In response, a big-toothy shit-eating grin overtook my face and remained plastered there for an artificially contrived and awkward moment. Basking in my self-indulgent be careful what you wish for build up, I followed with, “It just so happens I’m going on tour one weekend from next. Would you care to join me?”
And thus we planted the seed of our adventure.
Planning the Route & Camp
I spent a few moments prepping him on expectations as this was his first overnight bike tour. I recommended Uvas Canyon County Park Campground, given its proximity from my home, relatively low mileage for a first timer, moderate climb, and 365 available campground. Brad agreed to this route, and I booked the campground online.
Our Tour’s Impending Implosion
A perilous challenge emerged. On the morning of Wednesday November 18, Brad surfaced a scheduling conflict, and he requested we advance the tour a week early from Saturday, November 28 to Saturday November 21. This posed significant logistical challenges as I didn’t have his kit ready or my bike up to snuff.
In repurposing the words of Lady Galadriel, the Fellowship of the Tour [Ring] is breaking. The fate of our tour teetered on the edge of ruin…
Here are the challenges I faced:
Logistical Challenge #1: I needed new bike brakes.
I specifically planned the tour for two weeks out because I was waiting on my new bike brakes to come in. As you may recall from my prior post, I spent a great deal of time working on brake failure issues on my last tour. I was waiting for the bike shop to special order my new brake calipers. I intended for the install to occur over the weekend of the 21st.
Physically getting to the shop proved challenging. The shop was about 8 miles from home, and the the weekend was the ideal time for the install. Amanda and I shared a car, so I would either need to use the car on the weekend to transport my bike or bike it on down to the shop. I wouldn’t mind biking it down during the week, but I would need to leave work early to do so, and work was quite busy lately and I couldn’t get away.
Yet, some opportunity existed as the brakes were set to arrive at the shop on Wednesday.
Logistical Challenge #2: Brad has no panniers.
My kit from my last tour proved quite successful, thanks to my Tidy Cats bucket panniers. However, Brad did not have panniers.
I needed to create some new panniers for Brad, which I originally planned to work on over the weekend of the 21st. This meant that I would need to fashion the panniers the day prior to the trip. However, I didn’t have the hardware I needed to build the panniers and would need to go to a hardware store to acquire said hardware.
Getting to the hardware store proved difficult given that I didn’t have access to the car during the week.
Logistical Challenge #3: It was an inordinately busy week.
- Monday, I had some high priority deliverables to get out at work. I toiled late that night to maximize production.
- Tuesday, I hosted dinner for my boss and prepared a home cooked meal from scratch.
- Wednesday, I had physical therapy and left work early to get there. Biked 16 miles.
- Thursday and Friday, no plans at the time. These days were originally intended to be personal catch up days since the M-W were quite busy. I repurposed these days as prep days for the tour.
Operationalizing an Action Plan
We could pull off this son-of-a-bitch if all the stars aligned. It was a long-shot, but we decided to go for it, with failure to get my brakes installed as the deal breaker.
The bike shop promised the brakes would arrive on Wednesday the 18th, and I could get them installed as late as Friday the 20th. Saturday the 21st would be too late for an install as we needed to take off early in the AM.
The day wore on and Wednesday passed. Brakes didn’t make it in. I called on Thursday morning. Brakes still didn’t make it in.
On Thursday. I was sweating.
Brad pressed me for a go, no-go decision by close of business. I called again in the PM, and success! The brakes were in.
The tension didn’t ease. I would need to make it into the shop by 5 pm for a technician to see me for the install. This was predicated that no one else was ahead of me for repairs, and the shop wasn’t accepting reservations.
I hadn’t planned on leaving the office early, but decided to take off at 4 to set the plan into motion. At 3, a last minute fire broke out at work, and I needed to turnaround an urgent request on a project that I got forced into. I was not pleased. I ended up not finishing in time. Thus, I needed to work from home after I got back for the shop so I could finish up. Yet another task to add on the evening’s growing list of to-dos.
The other issue resulted from not having panniers built yet for Brad’s use. At first, I thought I could swing by Home Depot on my way back from the shop. Yet this scenario could play out in one of two ways. Either the bike shop would install and I could ride my bike home that night, or, I would have to leave my bike in over night and take transit to Home Depot and then home. Getting the install done that day was critical. Yet, biking out to Home Depot was not ideal given the time intensive impact it would render on my schedule. Transit was an obvious worse scenario logistically speaking.
To remediate our gear deficiency, I enlisted Brad’s help to transform the Tidy Cats from a kitty litter storage device, to a road-ready gear arsenal. I reached out to Brad and asked if he could help pick up the goods from the store and meet me at home to build. He agreed, but had a conflict in between the proposed timeframe. He needed to do a video call with a contractor and I wasn’t sure if I’d be home in time to let Brad in. Amanda was directing a counseling session and could be roped into a time consuming emergency situation given the nature of her work. After reaching out to Amanda, she agreed to be home early, if possible.
Plan. In. Action.
With the clock striking 4, I raced out the door and began my 8 mile journey to the bike shop on my rig. I churned my legs as fast as they could muster along the San Tomas Aquino Trail, the busy roads of Santa Clara rush hour, and the frenetic frenzy of San Jose State University. The bike shop blessedly came into view, and I held my breath in anticipation of the outcome.
In arriving at 5:07 pm, I needed to score a win. The bike needed to get fixed that night to avoid delays to my schedule, so I put on my game face. Fearing the worst, I greeted the technician with a beaming smile. I briefly let him know that I was REALLLY hoping they could get the work done that evening. I kept the tone very upbeat and tentative, careful not to make demands or seem imposing on them. Yet, he told me that they likely weren’t able to do the install that night and that I would need to leave my bike overnight. My skin went icy as I saw my scheduling slipping away before my eyes.
The technician who worked with me previously then walked in, and I dialed up the schmooze factor. “Hey!” I warmly called out. I thanked him for helping me, and I plead my case. In a concerned tone, I relayed, “Man, I hope I don’t have to take public transit home and really need this for my tour this weekend. Could you please help me out?” He took a long stare at me as he considered his next move. Holding my breath, I kept a very tentative expression on my face. Likely taking pity, he agreed to help that evening.
An hour later, I was again racing out the door. Pedaling hard and fast to get home and greet Brad, I got lost in the Guadalupe rose garden. In the dark of night, I found my way back on the trail. Figures stirred about in the periphery along the bushes and overgrowth. Some just lay in the bike paths staring into my blinding head torch. Others shuffled on by in a stupor. As I cleared past the vagrants, I made it home in good time, despite that I had to slow and swerve frequently to avoid the armies of snails slowly crawling along the trail.
At home, Brad video called me to help him select the hardware for our panniers project. 20 minutes later, we found the right goods and he joined me at home. Next, I scarfed down some dinner and put out my fire from work. We built the Tidy Cat panniers over the course of the next 2 hours, and we were glowing in the completion of our projects. Brad exited. At 2:00 am, I crawled my tired ass into bed sporting a solid sense of accomplishment. We were a go for our bromantic getaway! <3<3<3
My sweet wifey cooked me another yummy chocolate oatmeal breakfast, and helped me spike life-giving coffee into my thirsty-junkie veins. Glowing in my gluttony, Brad arrived on scene, and we made some final adjustments on our bikes before we began our bromantic getaway.
The sun beamed across the horizon as we leisurely pedaled south to Downtown San Jose among the runners and bikers that littered the Guadalupe River trail. We paused to admire Lupe, the 9,600 pound Colombian Mammoth who pays homage to a 2-year-old mammoth — who clocked in in at 6-feet-tall and 3,000 pounds some 12,000 years ago — who was discovered nearby on the Guadalupe River.
Onward we traveled in single file. Brad graciously indulged me in shop talk. He listened patiently while I whined incessantly about workplace drama. After I came back up for some air, he helped me gain some perspective. Slowly, my professional woes faded from mind as I soaked in the grandeur of our trek.
Warning! Soapbox Alert: We introspectively passed through a shanty town that was flanked between rail lines and a freeway. Hidden in plain sight from the blaring trains that carried the wants of society and the hungry motorists who devoured the day’s next and best, this see-through sanctuary eerily pronounced the cost of progress.
Graffiti tags were tagged with graffiti, and consumed all available surface area in an overstimulating effect that rendered their esoteric meanings further incomprehensible. Sections of chain-link fences were replaced by “gates”, bolt cut by humans and breadcrumbed by refuse. Lain to waste by proud progenitors, various implements of civilization savaged the landscape in a sun-bleached rainbow of color. These artifacts of our progress degenerate as easily as they were created, evidenced by rotting biomatter, bleeding plastics, and molting metal; poisons now serving the purpose of no purpose at the leisure of the masters of all. I felt comforted as I observed the earth already beginning to swallow sections of waste with sediment, knowing that Earth will one day inevitably reclaim all that’s rightfully due. Soap Box End.
Back in civilization, we made our way to the lovely Lake Almaden and people watched the languid masses lazing and enjoying this beautiful Saturday afternoon.
We soaked in the day as we meandered through well manicured trails of Los Alamitos Trail that was dotted with walkers and runners.
We emerged unto McKean Rd and began our climb that dominated the remaining dozen miles. As cars buzzed on by at high velocity, our tolerance for limited shoulders steadily increased over time. Being the crotchety old man that I am, I periodically cursed out the motorists who violated the 3 feet of space law (required distance for motorists to observe away from bikes).
Gorgeous golden hills rolled along the horizon and were contrasted by blue beautiful skies. Brad pulled on ahead as I inched my way along. Every now and then, we’d regroup and shoot the breeze before continuing along.
The last 4 miles on Croy Rd were particularly punishing as the intensity of the climb dialed up and my legs deteriorated further. Despite the state of my lower half, I was pushed on by the thought of a poor-bored Brad waiting for my slow-poke legs.
6 hours from our departure time, we arrived at camp.
We set up camp, and battled with my new tent. It took a good 10 minutes for a Doctor of Jurisprudence and a Master of Public Administration to figure out the arcane instructions.
A curious Boy Scout Leader approached and admired our rigs. He recounted his most revered adventure in his life, a multi-week tour down the Washington, Oregon, and California coasts. Flooded with memories, he enthusiastically shared tales of his former glory as a bike racer. In his nostalgia, he lamented that those days were far gone. I encouraged him and said, it’s never to late to go on another tour 🙂
Brad and I enjoyed a lovely meal together, and he then departed to explore the picturesque park while I tended to the campfire. We spent the next few hours enjoying the mesmerizing fire and each other’s company.
After a bromantic evening under the stars of swapping trivia, philosophical ramblings, and pop media musings, Brad retired early. I remained with the fire with my thoughts for some time before slipping into a satisfying slumber.
The Return Journey
I awoke to the most adorable sight. I turned to my left and beheld a smiling Bradley snuggled in his all enveloping sleeping bag that resembled a blue cloud. I burst out laughing at this impossible scene and started snapping pictures like mad.
After a scrumptious breakfast, we packed up and packed out. The first several miles were an enjoyable downhill coast.
As I climbed, disaster struck. I heard a mild pop. I glanced around casually and concluded that I ran over something and that my rig was fine. Then I noticed my front bike rack with my sleeping bag was incrementally inching towards my front wheel! In a panic, I slammed on my brakes and tried to get as far to the right as possible on the narrow shoulder. Cars whizzed past, I assessed my predicament.
I determined that the bracket joining my rack to my bike had snapped. I bungeed the shit out the rack to keep it attached and continued on our journey.
The remainder of our odyssey was lovely and uneventful. We made it home in decent time. Gathered around my couch with my bro and my beau, we enjoyed a yummy bowl of veggies and rice while we recounted tales of our glorious adventure.